Dedicated servant

People “said it would snow in hell before I left the commission,” Bruce Woodbury joked as he wound up his final meeting Wednesday as the state’s longest-serving county commissioner, during the heaviest snowfall the valley has seen in 20 years. “Well, it’s snowing, and some people think Las Vegas is hell.”

Mr. Woodbury, 64, has served on Clark County’s governing body since 1981. Though he had planned to run for re-election again this year, the state Supreme Court ruled this summer that he had finally became ineligible under 12-year term limits approved by voters in 1994 and then again in 1996.

At a farewell gathering after the meeting, both Mr. Woodbury and his fellow departing commissioner, Chip Maxfield, received plaques and — from the county Water Reclamation District — sewer paddles to honor their efforts at improving the area’s water treatment.

“They had their minds in the sewer all these years,” quipped Richard Mendes, the district’s general manager, to a mixture of groans and laughter.

In fact, Mr. Woodbury did indeed distinguish himself as one of the valley’s premier long-term thinkers and planners, trying to keep up with the region’s explosive growth and, when possible, stay ahead of it.

How bad would traffic be today on our surface streets and highways if Mr. Woodbury hadn’t been on the commission to advocate plans to pay for transportation infrastructure? Thanks in large part to Mr. Woodbury’s efforts, voters today drive a nearly completed Las Vegas Beltway that bears his name.

How bad would flooding in the valley be after even brief storms like last week’s, if Mr. Woodbury hadn’t helped establish the Clark County Flood Control District back in 1986?

Unlike many of his former colleagues, who used their offices to amass ill-gotten wealth and buy homes and cars out of all proportion to their wages, Mr. Woodbury has lived in the same Boulder City house for all his years as a commissioner. When last we checked, he was driving a nearly 20-year-old car with 279,000 miles.

At a time when four former Clark County commissioners are in federal prison for bribery (Mary Kincaid-Chauncey was transferred to a local halfway house this week; the others are Lance Malone, Dario Herrera and Erin Kenny), a fifth is under indictment (Lynette Boggs) and a sixth under criminal investigation (Yvonne Atkinson Gates), taxpayers can be thankful Bruce Woodbury set the bar a bit higher.

“I’ve worked with 27 different commissioners,” Mr. Woodbury said last year, upon being honored for becoming the longest-serving county commissioner in state history. “The legacy of a few of them is not what we’d want it to be, but the majority of them were honest, dedicated public servants.”

None more so than Mr. Woodbury

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